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Postpartum depression

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Postpartum depression: causes, signs and treatment of the disease

Postpartum (postnatal) depression is a common psychological disorder, the symptoms of which, according to statistics, are experienced by about every tenth mother in the first months after childbirth. Despite the seeming harmlessness of the manifestations of depression, the disease requires timely treatment. In the absence of special therapeutic measures, pathology can progress, having an extremely destructive effect on the psychoemotional and physical health of a woman.

Causes of Postpartum Depression

The causes of depression in a new mother may be psychological. It has been found that women are most susceptible to postpartum depression:

Who have received less maternal love in childhood or have a negative experience of relationships with their own mother;

Experiencing difficulties in psychological adaptation to stressful situations and new life circumstances; who have already suffered from anxiety disorders or depressive conditions.

The following common causes of depression are also distinguished :

hereditary characteristics of the psychoemotional sphere of a woman;
a sharp decrease in the level of estrogen in the female body, characteristic of the postpartum period;
lack of rest, lack of conditions for full recovery after childbirth;
well-being problems caused by a recent birth or breastfeeding process;
difficult childbirth, complications after childbirth;
the birth of a sick child or the death of a newborn baby;
pathologically negative attitude towards changes in appearance and body parameters associated with pregnancy and childbirth;
lack of experience in caring for a newborn, giving rise to fear for the health of the child;
the selfish character of a young mother, which makes a woman unprepared to change her usual way of life at the expense of her own desires and interests;
lack of help and support from the husband and loved ones;
unfavorable financial situation of the family;
unfavorable psychological microclimate in the family, frequent conflict situations, alcoholism, domestic violence, etc.

In addition, constant fatigue, lack of rest and help from the spouse and relatives often become the causes of postpartum depression. It is important that other women who have experience of motherhood often stay next to the young mother.

Postpartum depression: symptoms and signs

The first signs of depression in a woman usually appear already at the beginning of the postpartum period and, as a rule, manifest themselves with the following conditions:

sleep disorders (difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, insomnia);
constant feeling of tiredness, rapid fatigability;
drowsiness, lethargy, deterioration in the quality of memory and attention;
instability of mood, tearfulness, irascibility, irritability;
inertia, partial or complete loss of interest in the usual activities;
chronic dissatisfaction with oneself and (or) others;
loss of interest in life, pessimistic outlook on the future;
formal social isolation (unwillingness to contact with loved ones, previously uncharacteristic inclination to solitude);
deterioration in appetite or, conversely, an excessive need for food;
pathological anxiety for the health and life of the child, inappropriate behavior in relation to the baby;
obsessive thoughts or suicidal ideation;
psychological detachment from her husband, refusal of intimate relationships, etc.
The appearance of signs of postpartum depression in a woman should be a signal for her and her loved ones about the need to seek medical help. Timely initiated therapeutic measures will prevent the development of pathology and restore the patient's psychological health as soon as possible.

A more severe form of depression is postpartum psychosis. As a rule, this disorder develops within three to four weeks after childbirth and requires immediate treatment, with possible hospitalization. The most common signs of postpartum psychosis are time disorientation, hallucinations, delusional states, paranoia, and even attempts to harm yourself or your baby.

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method s control and prevention of postpartum depression

The onset and development of postpartum depression is influenced by both biological and emotional factors. The levels of estrogen and progesterone in the body fluctuate dramatically after childbirth. These hormones are associated with neurotransmitters that affect a person's mood. Depression usually occurs between a week and a month after childbirth.

Its main symptoms are: a feeling of depression and uselessness, severe anxiety, tearfulness, irritability, sadness, fatigue, disturbed sleep and eating habits, poor concentration, intense anxiety about the child, or, conversely, lack of interest in him. In addition to emotional signs, there are physical ones: migraines, chest pains, shortness of breath. Prolonged depression is a serious reason to see a doctor. Here are some of the best ways to get rid of this problem.

1. Breastfeeding

First of all, new mothers need a safe emotional connection with their newborns as a prevention of depression. The best option for this is breastfeeding. It aids in the release of endorphins, which improve the mood and overall well-being of the mother. Research by scientists shows that women who breastfeed after childbirth are much less likely to suffer from depression. However, the process of breastfeeding is closely related to the emotional state of the woman. If she is a lot of worry and sadness, then this can reduce lactation. Positive support from loved ones and advice from experienced professionals are important for effective feeding.

2. Foods rich in omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital nutrients and key components of cell membranes that contribute to the proper functioning of serotonin. And this is a necessary hormone to maintain a positive mood and combat stress. Foods and dietary supplements with omega-3 fatty acids are important for the normal functioning of the central nervous system.

After giving birth, it is advisable to eat such foods as flaxseed oil, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout), walnuts, eggs, etc. After consulting a doctor, a woman can consume dietary supplements with omega-3. They have a beneficial effect on the body after childbirth, reduce the level of corticosterone and cytokines that contribute to the development of depression.

3. Soothing massage

A warm, relaxing massage is one of the best ways to deal with depressed mood and anxiety. Massage is not only beneficial for the condition of the skin and body. It fills the body with new positive energy, helps to cope with physical pain, the effects of stress, reducing bad feelings and thoughts.

Postpartum massage also provides many other benefits: hormonal balance, reduced edema, improved sleep and stimulation of lactation. It is no less useful for a woman to massage her newborn baby. This helps to build a bond between mother and child.

4. Communication with a psychologist

If it is difficult for loved ones to help a woman during postpartum depression, then you should not hesitate to contact a specialist in the field of psychology (psychotherapist, practical psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, etc.). Conversations with such people will allow you to identify specific causes and markers of irritants in order to quickly eliminate the problem. Two types of therapy are particularly effective: cognitive-behavioral and interpersonal. The first one helps people to recognize and change negative thoughts and behavior. And the second - promotes understanding of problems in personal relationships and ways to solve them. Both methods require treatment within 3-4 months.

5. Vitamin D

This component is very important for maintaining mental health. It activates the production of serotonin, a mood hormone. Depression develops more often when there is a lack of it. During pregnancy, a large part of the vitamin D entering the woman's body is spent on maintaining the health of the fetus. Therefore, it is very important to make up for the lack of vitamins after childbirth.

By far the easiest way to get calciferol (vitamin D) is to sunbathe daily (about 15-20 minutes), but not overdo it. Several foods also contain this beneficial vitamin: red fish, egg yolks, dairy and grain products. If necessary, and after the dosage established by the doctor, you can take special dietary supplements with calciferol.

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6. Bright light therapy

Recently, this method of treating depression has become more and more popular. It is effective for problems associated with serotonin dysfunction and melatonin regulation. This therapy helps with seasonal flare-ups of the psyche, premenstrual disorders and postpartum depression.

During treatment, the patient's eyes are exposed to intense but safe exposure to light for specific and regular intervals. Light is able to correct malfunctions of the internal biological clock, to influence the production of neurotransmitters in the brain ( serotonin , norepinephrine and dopamine), which are important for the treatment of depression.

7. Acupuncture

You can try acupuncture to relieve depression and achieve balance of hormones. This therapy is also beneficial for the woman after childbirth, recharging her with the necessary energy, helping to cope with pain and improve thyroid function. Studies have shown that acupuncture can also help reduce depression during pregnancy. But it is important to remember that an acupressure session should only be performed by an experienced specialist who has the necessary licenses and documents.

8. Exercises

After giving birth, many women worry about a deterioration in their figure, which does not in the best way affect their self-esteem and often gives rise to depression. Instead of worrying and worrying about this, it is better to take action. You need to do physical exercises regularly , even the simplest ones. An intense workout may not be for everyone.

The best option: walking, jogging, exercising, stretching, yoga exercises ... Such physical activity helps to cope with postpartum depression and strengthens the weakened health of a woman after childbirth.

9. Meditation

By practicing meditation, a newly-born woman can effectively control her emotions, which greatly reduces the risk of developing depression. The ability to concentrate and listen to your body makes a person more balanced, calm, and at the same time more energetic and positive. And this is very important for new parents. At the initial stage, it is enough to carry out five-minute sessions, gradually increasing their duration.

10. Proper sleep and rest

When a newborn appears in the house, all household members may have trouble sleeping, especially the mother of the baby. But sleep is extremely important to her. With its lack and poor quality, depression develops more intensely. A woman definitely needs to find time to sleep and rest. Her relatives and friends can help her in this. It is important to gradually accustom the child to the regimen.

How to cope with depression and restore psychological health?

In order for the treatment of depression to be as effective as possible, along with the passage of the therapy prescribed by the doctor, the patient should pay attention to the normalization of her sleep and rest regimen. An important role in the fight against depression is played by the proper nutrition of a woman. The patient's diet should contain a sufficient amount of healthy proteins and carbohydrates, as well as foods rich in vitamin B and amino acids.

The presence of bad habits in a patient may not be the best way to affect the effectiveness of treatment for depression. Leading a healthy lifestyle, playing sports and regular walks in the fresh air will help to cope with the disease as soon as possible and serve as an effective prevention of recurrence of the disease in the future.

Additional tips for dealing with depression

It is necessary to establish an emotional connection with the baby. The larger it is, the less likely you are to get depressed.
Do not hesitate to ask for help and support from loved ones.
Work on your relationship with your partner without relegating it to the background.
Do not keep negative feelings in yourself, finding the time and opportunity to share them with loved ones or with specialists in the field of psychology.
Do not worry too much about household chores, it is better to give preference to taking care of the child. Allocate personal time for a good rest.
Don't forget about meals and a balanced diet.
Do not stop communicating with the outside world, friends, colleagues, etc.
Listen to music.
Keep a diary to describe your thoughts, observations of the child, and feelings.
In severe cases of postpartum depression, take antidepressants only after a doctor's recommendation.

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